Pros: A fantastic motherboard with lots of extras
We have just come to the end of PC installs at work and thought it was time I shared with you my experiences with the 80 motherboards we have just completed.
Due to the style of PC that was required and the price, we opted for Athlon powered PCs as opposed to Pentium powered.
This meant Athlon Motherboards. For this, we decided to go with the well respected MSI motherboards as they are famous for producing reliable Athlon and Duron boards.
Lets have a look at the board now and describe its size,shape and dimensions.
Firstly, it is an Micro ATX motherboard design.
This means it fits in all universal Micro ATX cases. The boxes that sit on your desk are normally ATX or Micro ATX style if they are home made PCs. This allows for lots of universal parts to fit together. The main difference being the size of the board. A standard ATX is larger than the micro board as it has more slots for expansion.
So it fits a wide variety of cases. This also means all of the Inputs for Keyboard,Mouse,USB,Parallel and Serial ports all sit together for ease of access.
In appearance, it looks like many other boards. It is square in shape which allows it to fit in nearly all applications.
So what do you get with the board?
Well obviously you get the motherboard but you also get a detailed and thorough installation manual, a "Quick Start" guide, an IDE lead to connect your motherboard to a hard drive and a blanking plate to fit exactly around the inputs and mate with the case. This saves for unwanted fiddling around getting everything to line up.
Hardware installation is very simple. The universal design of the board allows it to be mounted in the various style cases by its 6 mounting screws. All you wil lneed is the Phillips screwdriver as even the screws are supplied!
Once you have the board in place, you can look at add in the rest of the hardware. This would be a good time to mention what it can take and support.
Firstly, it has 3 PCI slots. These are coloured White for easy recognition. This is where you plug in your Modems, Sound Cards and some graphics cards. So you can support up to 3 of these devices at one time. They simply push into the slots.
There is also one AGP slot (coloured Brown). This is for a graphics card to be installed.
Thanks to the chip set on the board, you may not need a graphics card. In fact, for all but Gaming PC's, this graphics chipset that comes "on board" is fantastic. The Savage 8 2D/3D Graphics chip gives great performance for office or low resolution games. It does not have the depth and speed for fast 3D gaming but for all other needs it is fine.
It also has on board LAN. This means you can attach it straight to a network without the need for a separate network card. This is done through the square looking RJ45 connection on the back of the motherboard.
Add to this the built in Sound chips to create 5.1 stereo sound, you have a great all round board to cope with most multimedia applications.
Memory can be installed in 2 types. It can take DDR DIMM style memory and SDR DIMMs. This gives greater flexibility when deciding what type to install or what type you may have available in the office. We had the problem of faulty RAM and were able to swap in some older RAM due to this dual capability! great!
You can install up to 2GB of RAM in these slots should you require it. Pretty unlikely in a desktop.
Settings for the board are fully configurable through the BIOS which itself is very up to date are very user friendly. Most things are automatically picked up but for those manual adjustments, just press your DEL key during boot up to see how easy it is!
Performance is pretty good to. The board is very compatible with most hardware and with very few conflicts. In fact, we intalled all manner of Bespoke cards for some of our software and all installed fine.
Well, we had 80 installs to do over the last 6 months and I must say in the whole it was fine. We had 2 motherboards that did cause us problems though through manufacturers faults. These were immediately replaced under the 1 year warranty agreement and the replacements worked fine.
These retail at $79.99 and I think this is a great price considering what you get actually on board.
A great board at a great price. OK, we had 2 break but these were replaced immediately. They have loads of extras, lots of instructions and lots of performance. Top Notch!